The Port Washington/Saukville School District will be well represented at the Middle Level State Honors Music Project this weekend. Six music students and their teachers will be participating in the event.
“We’re incredibly proud of these students and this recognition,” said Abby Raaflaub, Coordinator for the All State WCDA Middle Level Choir and Choral/General Music/ Musical Theatre teacher at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. “It is great exposure for them to work with students from all over the state and to learn from highly accomplished directors.”
Only music students in grades 6, 7, and 8 are able to audition for the Honors Project. In Spring of 2022, nearly 1000 students auditioned for the 305 available positions. Five of the students being sent by the TJMS Music Department: Adeline Dahl, Austin Knapp, Jack Mitchell, Jack Schwengels, and Madelyn Szolwinski, will be participating in the Choir Ensemble. Only Tegan Timberlake was chosen for the Orchestra and will be participating as one of only four trumpets in the entire ensemble.
Adam Hackbarth, who was Timberlake’s Band/Jazz Band teacher last year, commented, “This is a pretty big honor - not just for Tegan but for our school and entire music department. She’s a hard-working and accomplished musician who earned this recognition.”
Music for the Honors Project was sent out in August, but students will have just one day of rehearsals together before their performance. Students are expected to take this opportunity seriously and to show up fully prepared. When asked about the students from TJMS, Raaflaub expressed no doubts. “The students who were chosen are committed to music. This weekend is the reward for that.”
The current and former TJMS students will be traveling to Verona, Wisconsin this weekend with financial support from the TJMS Music Boosters. Tuition for this
event includes meals, lodging, coaching, music, tshirt, etc. This year’s Middle Level Band Ensemble will be directed by Dr. Erica J Neidlinger, associate professor and wind conductor at DePaul University in Chicago. The 2022 Middle Level Honors Choir will be directed by Dr. Jabarie Glass, Associate Director of Choral Studies at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Frank M. Diaz, associate professor of music at Indiana University will direct the Middle Level Orchestra.
On November 18th and 19th, the TJMS orchestra will participate in MARY POPPINS JR., which will be performed at the Port Washington High School PAC at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets will be available at the door, but may also be purchased online at gofan.co/
About TJMS Music Boosters
The TJMS MUSIC BOOSTERS are committed to promoting, supporting, and subsidizing musical education and the dedicated educators providing it. Port Washington is recognized nationally as a top community for Musical Education by NAMM. Students have the opportunity to participate in general choir, select choir, a capella choir, band, jazz band, marching band & color guard, and musical theater throughout Middle School. TJMS Music Boosters are actively fundraising for facility improvements, staffing, and instruments. For information on how you or your company can contribute, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary Boyle
The Constructivists, one of Milwaukee’s most recent theatre companies, began their first season in 2018 with Martin McDonagh’s disturbing play, The Pillowman. Led by the fearless Jaimelyn Gray, The Constructivists believe that “passionate theatre is the necessary catalyst for change” and have filled a niche in the Milwaukee theatre scene that most people probably didn’t know needed filling. Not only did they survive the pandemic, Jaimelyn helped to found the Milwaukee Theatre Alliance, a coalition of area theatre companies, artists and supporters coming together to support and strengthen Milwaukee theatre. This season, they return with Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s THE TOTALITARIANS, a 2015 political satire that was meant for their 2020 season but, as with most political satire, is still entirely relevant.
Directed by Jaimelyn Gray, THE TOTALITARIANS takes place in the unassuming state of Nebraska where a struggling campaign manager named Francine (Haley Ebinal) is trying to advance her career by any means necessary, even if it means getting the stupidest candidate she’s ever worked with, Penelope Clearwater (Maggie Marks), to win the State Senate seat. Francine’s husband, Jeffrey (Matthew Scales), is a doctor who just wants Francine to leave the campaign behind and start a family with him. When his patient, Ben (Ekene Ikegwuani), convinces him that there’s a plot to turn Nebraska into a totalitarian state and that his wife and her candidate are involved in it, chaos ensues.
Described by The Constructivists as a dark comedy, the show does offer plenty of laughs, but most of them are of the uncomfortable variety – either because the humor involves sex in one way or another or because the story is too ridiculous to be believed, until you back up and realize it bears an uncanny resemblance to real life. Marks channels serious and well-played Sarah Palin energy into Penny, while Matthew Scales, who is a strong and consistent actor, reminds me of Kevin James from the sitcom King of Queens. I saw Rebekah Farr as Francine, since Haley Ebinal had an illness that took her out of the first several performances, and I must give her another round of applause because I thought she delivered a very strong performance even without considering she was not an understudy for the role, but the Assistant Director.
In all, this production left me more confused than disturbed; it is full of contradictions to itself and, quite honestly, I can't decide if it is brilliant satire or utterly lacking in intelligence. Whatever audiences decide, the production will most certainly make you think about the state of politics in our country and, perhaps, how we might rise above it. The intimate Interchange Theater is a good venue for this production; they have a great bar area for before the show and during intermission, and it’s an ideal place to see and support smaller companies like The Constructivists who are often doing the kind of theatre that is too risky for the larger groups to support. This particular production includes violence and adult language, as well as sexual content, and is not intended for all audiences; viewer discretion is advised.
THE TOTALITARIANS runs through October 29, 2022, at the Interchange Theater Co-op, located at 628 N. 10th Street in Milwaukee. Tickets, which are always $20, may be purchased online at https://www.theconstructivists.org/ or by calling (414) 858-6874.
About The Constructivists:
The Constructivists believes that live theatre, and the human connection it provides, is needed now more than ever and are committed to creating accessible, viscerally-driven live theatre, exposing and exploring the complexity of human nature and the perils it creates in an effort to challenge, enlighten, educate, and entertain a diverse mature audience. Since 2018, under the leadership of Director Jaimelyn Gray, The Constructivists are working to strengthen and grow the local theatre community in the Milwaukee area.
By Mary Boyle
While not everyone may be familiar with Marc Brown's children's books about Arthur the aardvark, most people have encountered the cartoon, aired on PBS, simply because it is the longest running children's animated series in the U.S. In fact, the cartoon comes in second to being the longest running animated series in the U.S. after The Simpsons. Since 1996, there have been 25 seasons and 253 episodes of the cartoon; generations of kids have spent time after school with this lovable and relatable character, along with his family, friends, and the fictional community of Elwood City, as they tackle important topics such as cancer, autism, diabetes, and asthma while encouraging children to read and to believe in themselves. Now, the playwright duo of John Maclay and Brett Ryback have brought this iconic animated series to life in ARTHUR™ & FRIENDS MAKE A MUSICAL! with First Stage in Milwaukee.
Directed by Khalia Davis, with music direction by Brett Ryback, the musical manages to accurately bring the feel of the cartoon to life, even without trying to transform the actors into the anthropomorphic characters they represent. By dressing the actors in the clothing worn by their cartoon counterparts, the characters are easily recognizable by anyone familiar with the show, even without the use of furry costumes or ears. While the cartoon’s iconic theme song, written by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, is not featured in the production, the lyrics are clever and well suited to the cartoon and the musical styles vary, including an excellent nod to Hamilton that Lin Manuel Miranda fans will appreciate.
The adults in the cartoon are played by adult actors: SaraLynn Evenson is Arthur’s mom, Zach Thomas Woods is Arthur’s dad, and the charismatic James Carrington, whose humor and energy really carries the production, plays Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn. The young performers are double cast and include Arthur (Vivian Madson/Sanaiah Hibbler), Arthur’s sister D.W. (Gia Love Deacon/Layla Katers), and Arthur’s friends: Francine (Alice Rivera/Lucia Santana), Muffy (Silver Anderson/Niamh Mayne), Buster (Ryon Davis/Alex Radtke), and Brain (Charlie Cornell/Jaloni Brown). I saw the Elwood Cast and was particularly enamored with Gia Love Deacon, who embodied D.W.’s mannerisms so perfectly. Vivian Madson was well cast as Arthur and Alice Rivera delivered an excellent performance as Francine. These are three young performers to keep an eye on.
John Maclay, who has done significant work with First Stage, was the writer behind last season’s Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors and is particularly brilliant at working in child-appropriate humor directed at the adults in the audience. Much like the cartoon, the musical tackles some important topics that kids encounter in real life, like being accepting of yourself and others, but also includes the more progressive storylines from the cartoon, including the mention that their teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is gay, which the cartoon unveiled in its 22nd season. Where the musical falls short is in sound: the music is recorded, not live, which wouldn’t be so bad except that the sound system at Todd Wehr is not good, compounded by the fact that the mics on the actors are also not great; however, these flaws are due to the technical limitations of the Todd Wehr Theater, which is long overdue for an overhaul. Certainly, if you are a fan of Arthur, I wouldn’t let that stop you from seeing this production. First Stage is one of the best youth theaters in the country; we are so very lucky to have them in the area and they deserve our support.
ARTHUR™ & FRIENDS MAKE A MUSICAL! runs through November 6, 2022, at the Marcus Center's Todd Wehr Theater, located at at 929 North Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets start at $32 and are available at https://www.firststage.org/ or by calling (414) 267-2961. Performance runtime is approximately 90 minutes, which includes a brief intermission. Suggested for families with young people ages 5+.
Special events for ARTHUR™ AND FRIENDS MAKE A MUSICAL!
Sensory Friendly Performance: Saturday, October 22, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.
A Sensory Friendly Performance with accommodations for families with children on the autism spectrum. Sensory accommodations include lower sound, house lights up, a quiet area staffed by an educator experienced with the care of students on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences, and more. Tickets for Sensory Friendly Performances are $10. Order by phone at (414) 267-2961, weekdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. to reserve tickets. To learn more visit: firststage.org/plan-your-visit/sensory-friendly-performances/.
ASL Interpreted Performance: Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.
This performance will be sign language interpreted for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Assistive listening devices are also available at the Todd Wehr Theater. firststage.org/plan-your-visit/accessibility/sign-language-interpreted-performances/
About First Stage
First Stage is one of the nation’s leading theaters for young people and families. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten and entertain. Its Theater Academy, the nation’s largest high-impact theater training program for young people, fosters life skills through stage skills and serves nearly 2,000 students each year. As Wisconsin’s leader in arts-integrated education in schools, First Stage’s dynamic Theater in Education programs promote literacy, character building and experiential learning throughout the curriculum, serving over 20,000 students each year. First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2012) and was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award, recognizing creativity and innovation in business, education and the arts for its Next Steps program for students on the autism spectrum (2013, 2015). First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Milwaukee Arts Partners and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).
Halloween comes but once a year, and it's the perfect opportunity to be someone (or something) else, for a change. Then there's the free candy, of course. Ozaukee has all kinds of fun Halloween happenings for all ages — here's the lineup!
Scary Bloody Mary Walk Saturday, October 22nd from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Enjoy Bloody Marys while supporting the Cedarburg Friends of Parks & Recreation! Twelve sponsor bars compete for the title of Best Bloody Mary 2022, while participants compete for Best Costume. Participants vote for Best Bloody and Best Costume to determine the winners.
Gothic History Tours October 21, 22 and 28 The Gothic History Tour returns for their 18th year with the Care and Feeding of Ghosts and Ghouls! This 90-minute walking tour is volunteer-led and benefits the non-profit Cedarburg Cultural Center.
The Haunt celebrates its 15th year of scaring people silly! Head to the fairgrounds Friday and Saturday nights between October 14th and the 29th to experience the horror, if you dare!
Pumpkin Walk Monday, October 31st from 5-9 p.m. The Pumpkin walk is truly Halloween fun for the whole family. Jack-o-lanterns line Washington Ave., and many of the main street businesses offer treats and specials for those who wander through.
Nightmare on Elm Street Thursday, October 27, 5-8 p.m. Food Trucks in the Park meets Dead Man's Carnival! A fun, free event for the whole family!
Business Trick-or-Treat Thursday, October 27, 4-6 p.m. In conjunction with Nightmare on Elm Street, many downtown Thiensville businesses will participate in a Trick-or-Treat!
Pumpkin Carving & Spooky Cave Tour Saturday, October 22, 11-4 at Foxtown Brewing Enjoy Halloween movies, drink and snack specials for adults and kids, and more!
Habitat Haunting at the Mequon Nature Preserve Saturday, October 29, noon-2. Come dressed in your costume and hike the Streich Family Wetlands trail system! Stop at different stations along the way and receive candy and other goodies. Play some yard games and run around Marty's Playspace when you are all done! Leashed dogs are welcome (have them dress up too!).
Fall into Grafton Friday & Saturday, October 14th & 15th This two-day event starts with a beer garden and live music on Friday night in the Paramount Plaza Stage. Bring your decorated jack-o-lanterns to light up the Paramount Plaza and enter in the Pumpkin Decorating Contest! Then, come back on Saturday for the second year of Puttin' Around Downtown Grafton, a kids zone with a petting zoo, pony rides, bounce houses, face painting and more! Don't forget to decorate and prepare a pumpkin to enter in the Bank Five Nine Pumpkin Derby!
Saukville Scare 5K Run/Walk Saturday, October 15th at Grady Park in Saukville, this family-friendly Halloween-themed event benefits the Saukville Elementary School free breakfast program.
Trails & Treats Friday and Saturday, October 21st and 22nd at Riveredge A non-spooky night of fall family fun as you hike a mile loop of our trails and visit education stations featuring some costumed woodland creatures along the way! While there, these new friends will entertain and educate you about their habits and habitats, and give you some candy-free treats while they're at it!
Harvest Moon Dance Saturday, October 22nd from 6-11 p.m. at the Saukville Legion is a great way for adults to celebrate Halloween for a good cause. Live music, food and prizes for the best costume!
Doggy Costume Parade & Contest Thursday, October 20st from 5-7 p.m. Who doesn't love a parade of dogs? Especially dogs dressed in costumes! The parade starts at 5 at the Heart of the Harbor and the contest will take place thereafter. No need to register your dog. Just come on down with a well-dressed pup to enter!
Huntin' for Pumpkins Friday, October 21, 5-7:30 p.m. Kids will get a chance to hunt for the perfect pumpkin in Upper Lake Park and one lucky child who finds the great golden pumpkin will receive a special treat! There will also be a spooky maze, photos from VIP, hot cider, a spooky story walk present by W.J. Niederkorn Library, and more! Pre-Registration is required.
Port Washington Ghost Walk Fridays and Saturday, October 28th & 29th Celebrate your Halloween Season in a most unique fashion and join in for the popular Port Washington Ghost Walk, featuring two options, this year, as well as a Ghost Hunt option. This popular event sells out fast!
Downtown Trick-or-Treating in Port Saturday, October 29th from 1-3 p.m.. Wear your best costume and visit businesses downtown!
Booo! at the Barn Saturday, October 29th from 8-11:30 p.m. Join Buechler Farms for an Adults Only Costume Party, featuring Live Music by Kid Ego, prize for the best costume, a photo booth, snacks, 50/50 Raffle and more!
Eerie Street Cemetary Haunted House Friday, October 21, 6-10 p.m. The Eerie Street Cemetary is a family-run charity haunted house running 6-10 p.m. October 21, 22, 28 and 29 and 2-8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30th. Proceeds go to Fishing Has No Boundaries.
Fredonia Fire Dept. Annual Halloween Brat Fry Saturday, October 29th from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Get a burger, brat or a treat for the trick-or-treaters!
Trick-or-Treating in Oz
By Mary Boyle
After two years of pandemic craziness, The Milwaukee Rep returns for its 69th Season with a strong opening round of shows at all three of their theaters located within the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex on Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee: TITANIC THE MUSICAL at the Quadracci Powerhouse, UNFORGETTABLE at the Stackner Cabaret, and WIFE OF A SALESMAN at the Stiemke Studio.
TITANIC THE MUSICAL was originally part of last year’s season and enjoying great success when the show had to be cancelled due to a COVID-19 breakout within the cast and crew. Miraculously, the show was able to be remounted, with very little cast changes, for an exclusive 5 week run which comes to an end on October 23rd. Directed by Mark Clements, with musical direction by Dan Kazemi, the production is a powerful telling of a story whose ending everyone already knows.
Many from the original cast were able to return to this production, including Milwaukee favorites Matt Daniels as Pitman/Etches, Kelly Faulkner as Caroline, Carrie Hitchcock as Ida Straus, and Andrew Varela as Ismay. New to this production are Alex Keiper (The Nerd, The Ring of Fire) who brought a lot of life to the production as Alice, and Jeffrey Kringer (West Side Story), who was fun to watch as Barrett.
For those interested in the actual story of the Titanic, the show is rife with facts, figures, and conjectures on what caused the tragedy. The set design by Timothy R. Mackabee is simple and clean, but impressive and made very effective using video superimposed on the stage, including some actual historical footage. The cast is immense, and though it is filled with individually talented singers, it is when they sing collectively that the music soars and swells within the theater and the hearts of audience members, alike. Hop on board this production while you still can.
UNFORGETTABLE: John-Mark McGaha sings NAT KING COLE was created by Chicago-based Artists Lounge Live’s Angela Ingersoll, who wrote and performed in last season’s Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Julie Garland. The Rep also hosted their production of First Lady of Song: Alexis J. Roston Sings Ella Fitzgerald. The goal of AAL is to combine superb musicianship with intimate storytelling, and the Stackner Cabaret is the perfect venue for this type of production.
McGaha is an incredibly talented singer and musician, in his own right, and shares many similarities with the great Nat King Cole: both were born in Alabama; both began piano lessons at a very young age and their mothers were their teachers; and, both considered themselves musicians more than singers. Besides singing, McGaha plays piano and guitar over the course of the show and is backed by four other very talented musicians who play drums, upright bass, piano and flute/saxophone. As he covers Cole’s greatest hits, along with some lesser-known songs, McGaha shares Cole’s story, including insight into Cole’s all too early death from lung cancer at the age of 45.
From Cole’s early iconic jazz tunes like “Straighten Up and Fly Right” to the R&B classic “Route 66” to his most memorable love songs like “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa,” the music of Nat King Cole is a part of our culture – even my 17-year-old son, who saw the performance with me, recognized over half of the songs, and I can assure you that he is not a jazz aficionado. These are talented people making great music and telling a good story while they do it; that being said, I also was seated next to a woman who could only be described as a true Nat King Cole fan and, while she was pleasantly surprised by some of the lesser-known tunes that made it into the show, she was also a bit disappointed that there were drums, saxophone and flute, which were historically not a part of the King Cole Trio’s instrumental lineup (Fun Fact: The King Cole Trio’s Live at the Circle Room was recorded in Milwaukee!). I am not enough of a Cole fan to weigh in on such matters, but I’d love to get feedback from those who are. You have until November 6th to catch this performance.
WIFE OF A SALESMAN is, to paraphrase a character in the play itself, “a deconstruction” of Arthur Miller’s 1949 classic play, Death of a Salesman, “through the feminist lens.” Written by new playwright Eleanor Burgess, whose play The Niceties was a part of the 2019/20 Season at The Rep, Wife of a Salesman is a World Premier in collaboration with Writers Theatre in Glencoe, IL and is, without a doubt, one of the most moving works of theatre I have ever witnessed.
In Death of a Salesman, we learn that the salesman is having an affair with a woman from Boston. In Wife of a Salesman, the story begins when the salesman’s wife (Heidi Armbruster) confronts her husband’s mistress (Bryce Gangel) with the hope of breaking up the affair. Then, in a mind-boggling instant, that is not the play you are seeing at all. That shocker, I can assure you, is nothing to how surprised you will be at the play’s end.
Directed by Marti Lyons, Wife of a Salesman raises major questions about marriage and motherhood, and how the way we view them has changed over generations. As a wife, mother, and as a woman, I have never felt so called out, nor so seen, heard, and validated, by a play. I was so shell-shocked at the end that it took a moment to remember to clap; then, once I was safely in my car on my way home, I felt a warm flush come over me as if I was embarrassed – but embarrassed by what? Then, out of nowhere, I began to sob uncontrollably (I was truly thankful I saw this one on my own, I can tell you). Honestly, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of this production; of all the ways I saw myself in the wife; of how I, too, put so much love into my family, only to wonder where it all went. Here is a story that never gets told and so desperately needed to be. Please go and see this play and be a part of this conversation – tell them Mary sent you.
Tickets to these productions and the rest of the 2022/23 season may be purchased online at www.MilwaukeeRep.com, by calling the Ticket Office at 414-224-9490, or in-person at 108 E Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee. Group tickets are available for parties 10+ by calling 414-290-5340.
Titanic The Musical runs through October 23rd at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater; Unforgettable: John-Mark McGaha sings Nat King Cole runs through November 6th at the Stackner Cabaret; Wife of a Salesman runs through November 6th at the Stiemke Studio.
For more information, please visit www.MilwaukeeRep.com.
For Ozaukee Audiences – Know Before You Go
Due to construction on I43, it is best to plan to leave 1 hour before showtime (1 ½ hours for those in northern Ozaukee) to allow time to park and find your seats. Purchasing a parking pass with your tickets is highly recommended and allows you to park directly below the theaters without having to go outdoors to get to the show. Planning dinner before or after performances can be a bit tricky; note run times and know that sometimes performances run late – many area restaurants close their kitchens by 10:30 p.m. Pre-show dinners are available on site at the Stackner Cabaret. If you are seeing a performance at the Stackner Cabaret, you must be at your seat 30 minutes ahead of show time to order food and drinks prior to the start of the show. Always remember to turn off your phone during the performance – you don’t want to be that guy.
About Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Milwaukee Rep is the largest performing arts organization in Wisconsin with three unique performance venues in the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex– the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio and Stackner Cabaret. For over six decades, Milwaukee Rep has been a centerpiece of Milwaukee’s vibrant arts and cultural scene with productions ranging from Broadway musicals to Shakespeare to American Classics and New Works that are entertaining, inclusive, and impactful. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mark Clements and Executive Director Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ignites positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality of its community by creating world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke, and inspire meaningful dialogue among an audience representative of Milwaukee’s rich diversity.